Field Day is a nationwide ARRL sponsored event on the fourth weekend of June where the San Antonio Radio Club (SARC) sets up in a field environment to simulate the operation of amateur radios under emergency conditions. While there is a contest aspect to Field Day, the real objective is to give members experience operating in an austere environment like those that may be faced in emergency situations. Just as important, SARC locates itself for Field Day such that SARC is bringing ham radio to the general public.
SARC owns a large tent that is the center of operations. Six folding tables are set up in it along with a lot of folding chairs. Four High Frequency Stations are set up and operated simultaneously. A Very High Frequency/Ultra High Frequency Station is also set up and operated simultaneously. A Get-On-The-Air (GOTA) is set up and operated. The purpose of the GOTA station is to get newly licensed ham radio operators on the air and members of the general public. In fact, under supervision of an appropriately licensed ham radio operator, members of the general public can operate any of the radios. Power to the radios, lights, and logging computers are provided by four (4) emergency generators owned by SARC. SARC also owns a portable trailer mounted beam antenna and many other antennas. An antenna farm containing a mix of SARC and member owned antennas are set up in the vicinity of the tent. While SARC owns some radios as a club, many of the radios at Field Day are member owned.
Field Day is 24 hour operation that includes all of Saturday night. SARC insures that no one starves. Catered BBQ is served for Saturday night super. Since it is usually hot during Field Day, plenty of water is kept on site as well.
The result is that SARC sets up radios under a tent in a field environment with emergency generators and temporarily erected antennas. Contacts are then made and logged. SARC has operated from the field adjoining the City Hall of the City of Shavano Park who have been great hosts and friends of amateur radio.
Field Day 2018
Field Day 2017
SARC held Field Day 2017 at the City of Shavano Park’s City Hall Complex, which is on the northwest side of the Greater San Antonio Metropolitan Area of Texas last year. SARC and the City of Shavano Park have a long association. The City of Shavano Park has been a gracious host for fifteen (15) years now. Their support is sincerely appreciated.
For SARC, tent erection activities started Friday afternoon on June 23, 2017. The tent, tables, and some other equipment was moved from our rental storage area to Shavano Park. With a lot of hands following the direction of someone who really, really knew how to erect the tent, the tent went up quickly and tables were placed to hold the tent in place overnight.
At 8:00 a. m. on Saturday, June 24, 2017, SARC members moved other generators, antennas, antenna masts and poles, Radio Frequency (RF) cables, and other equipment was moved from our rental storage area to Shavano Park. SARC then set up emergency generators, ran power lines, installed logging computers and lights, erected antennas, and installed radios. By 1:00 p. m., SARC was ready to start making contacts. While the dominant mode was FM, some digital modes like PSK31 and RTTY were also used.
Members came in and out all day and night, but SARC’s Field Day site was continuously in operation until mid-morning when deteriorating transmission conditions on a number of bands resulted in diminishing contacts. At that point, tear down commenced and all equipment was put back in storage.
SARC’s Field Day 2017 was a great experience for all participants. Lessons were learned for application in 2018.